Those of us in ministry often wonder if what we are doing counts, if it really matters, and if it will yield results in the long run. We try to mitigate our losses by assessing whether the people we are sinking our time into will give us a return on our investment. We want to pour into people who will take what we are giving them and actually do something with it, and not just let it run down the drain.
Almost twenty years I stumbled across a ministry practice which has produced more results than anything else I have ever done in ministry. I was able to see lives changed, people grow, and passion flow in very positive directions. That ministry practice can be described in a couple ways and is very common in many churches: missions trip, service project, work project, or very commonly, ministry involvement.
Those many years ago, I led a missions trip from one side of the country to the other. I took eight students and one adult with me, ten of us. We made that same trip for ten years in a row, with more than seventy different students and incredible results. One student went on that trip with us ten years in a row. He is a pastor now. Another went for nine years, she is the pastor’s wife. Another seven years, he is a Christian Camp director. Another is a church elder, four others are youth workers, and on and on I could go.
I would estimate, from my experience, that at least 50% of the people who are involved in missions trips, work projects, service projects, and active volunteer ministry positions experience positive and long lasting life change. I would also estimate that at least 90% of the people who do not get involved, don’t experience that life change. A major reason why most church members do not get involved is because we as pastors do not encourage or inspire them to, nor do we provide opportunities for them to engage in.
Real disciplemaking takes place in the context of ministry involvement, and we recorded a podcast on that topic some time ago. But today I want to focus on mission/service trips. These trips change the attitudes and hearts of those who go on them, creating long term life change. Why? A few reasons:
If you have not developed and led a missions trip or service project from your church in the last year, I would like to challenge you to try it! Want to see people get excited and experience all of those things in the list above? Then take them anywhere away from “here” and have them serve others as a group, and it will happen! Not all of them all at once, but as people work in partnership together to serve others, all of those things and more will happen.
This week’s podcast is “The Antidote For A Selfish Church.” In this post, you have been given a hint at what the antidote is. Getting people involved and on the team in the local church, and taking them on missions and service projects – that has been the best and most effective ministry practice I have ever engaged in for life change and disciple-making! Bar none.
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